Both the dark green leafy tops as well as the colorful beet root contain a variety of essential nutrients. The beet root is an excellent source of antioxidants including vitamin C, carotenoids, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and a unique group of phytonutrients called betalains that provide the red/violet or yellow/orange color in beet roots.
Scientists are just starting to learn about the possible anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of betalains in some types of cancer, liver disease, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. .Beets are also high in nitrates that play an important role in regulating blood pressure, reducing oxidative stress, and promoting cardiovascular health. Several studies show that drinking 1-3 cups of beetroot juice per day improves the distance and time that people with peripheral artery disease can walk and also increases the intensity and amount of exercise in trained athletes due to increased levels of nitric oxide that improves blood flow and lung function as well as strengthens muscle contractions.
The dark green leafy tops of beets are a nutrition powerhouse on their own too. Beet greens are excellent sources of vitamins K, A, C, and B vitamins along with copper, magnesium, calcium, iron, and fiber. Beet greens contain lutein and zeaxanthin, phytonutrients that, according to the American Optometric Association, protect our eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays and are important in preventing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Best Ways to Cook Beets
Although it looks tough, the beet root is actually quite delicate. Rinse it gently under cold, running water to avoid bruising. To preserve the most nutrients, cut the cleaned beet root into quarters and steam over boiling water for 15 minutes until easily pierced by a fork. Remove from the water and remove the skin by gently rubbing with a paper towel. Marinate steamed beets in olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs. Beets become tender and sweet when roasted; wrap cleaned beets in aluminum foil and roast in a 400 degree oven for 45-60 minutes. Remove the skin by rubbing each beet with a paper towel. For a quick and simple meal, grate raw beets and use the grated beet in cold salads.
Article Source: Communicating Food for Health Newsletter, December 2018